BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
DELPHI — When making out his lineup card for the season opener against host Delphi Tuesday, Rochester baseball coach Cory Good knew whom he wanted to bat in the top three spots in the batting order.
It was the fourth through ninth spots in the order about which he was not so sure.
But whether it was the veteran players or the players with lesser experience, the lineup showed up, piling up 14 hits and six walks in a 10-3 win over the Class 2A, No. 6 Oracles.
Evan Elliott had three hits, including a long two-run homer in the fourth inning, and four RBIs, and freshman Tanner Reinartz, who played third base and batted clean-up, had three hits, a walk and two RBIs.
Ethan Medina, who hits ahead of Elliott in the order, had three hits, an RBI and three runs scored.
Brayden Zink had a double, three walks and an RBI, and No. 9 hitter Colton Ferverda got on base three times and put the Zebras ahead for good with a two-out RBI double off Delphi starter Peyton Roth.
Delphi is the defending regional champion, and they knocked Rochester out of the state tournament in last year’s regional semifinals. They also have a Division I verbal commit in shortstop Luke Smock, bound for UW-Milwaukee.
But they never led in this game, and they never retired the Zebras in order in a slow-moving game that lasted two hours and 50 minutes.
Rochester kept pounding away at Roth and four relievers.
“I thought our approach at the plate was really good,” Good said. “You know, before the season started if you would have asked me something that I’m maybe a little concerned about, it was going to be offense. Basically, we lost six bats. Our 1-2-3 hitters stayed the same, but after that, it’s all brand new guys. We had some guys down there at the bottom that really had good at-bats or just worked the count.”
Delphi trailed 7-3 in the bottom of the sixth but had two on with two out when Zink, Rochester’s junior second baseman, ranged far to his left on Peyton Roth’s grounder to throw him out at first. Had Roth reached base, Smock would have batted representing the tying run. Instead, he led off the next inning.
But before he could do that, Rochester tacked on three more insurance runs in the seventh when Tarick McGlothin hit a looping liner to right for an RBI single to make it 8-3 and Elliott singled home two more runs.
Aaron Huffman pitched the first four innings for the win. McGlothin pitched three scoreless innings and struck out five for the save.
Brock Beehler and Kyle Reinartz were Rochester’s top two pitchers from last year. They tied for the team lead in wins with six each. Beehler threw a team-high 47 ⅓ innings, and Kyle Reinartz threw 44 ⅓.
Pitchers like Huffman and McGlothin might be counted on to fill the void, though Good sees a deeper pitching staff. Asked how many varsity-caliber arms there are on the team, Good said “a lot,” adding that they are working on getting 12 guys bullpen sessions during the week.
“Huff had a walk, and Tarick had two, but we threw a lot of strikes today,” Good said. “That’s what we need to do. That’s really the focus this year. I think we have a good defense behind our guys. And, you know, pitch to contact. We were going back and forth on who was going to pitch or start this game. … Huff’s been talking about this game for awhile. They hit him around a little bit in the regional last year, and he wanted another shot at them. That’s the competitor in Huffman.”
After the teams exchanged runs in the first inning, Ferverda drove home Hunter Campbell, a courtesy runner who took over for catcher Jake Seuferer after Seuferer led off with a single, with a double to deep left.
Medina and Elliott singled to start the third, and they advanced to second and third on a wild pitch before Reinartz lined a two-run single to left to make it 4-1.
Cole Long’s RBI fielder’s choice grounder in the bottom half made it 4-2, but Elliott crushed a long two-run homer to left off reliever Chase Almager – it was the second of his varsity career – to make it 6-2.
“I believe that we can be just as good,” Elliott said when asked to compare this year’s team with last year’s. “But if we come out with heart every single day and every single game and play for each other, I believe we can be there.”
Roth’s RBI fielder’s choice grounder in the bottom of the fourth made it 6-3.
Reinartz and Zink had back-to-back doubles in the sixth to make it 7-3.
“Their hitters were really good today,” Pioneer coach Ryan Long said. “They found a lot of holes in the defense, and it wasn’t that we made a lot of errors. They just hit it well, and we gave them six walks, which you can’t do. So they played well. They’ve got a nice squad, and we’ve got a lot to work on.”
Rochester was scheduled to open their season at LaVille on April 2. That game was postponed to Thursday and then postponed again. A new makeup date has not been set.
Rochester 10, Delphi 3
Rochester 112 201 3 – 10 14 2
Delphi 101 100 0 – 3 6 3
WP – Aaron Huffman (4 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K)
LP – Peyton Roth (2+ IP, 5 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 K)
2B – Tanner Reinartz (RHS), Brayden Zink (RHS), Colton Ferverda (RHS), Luke Smock (DEL)
HR – Evan Elliott (RHS)